Brian Jackson, Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group; Author of Info-Tech's 2022 Tech Trends report.
Smartphone rivals Apple and Google announced a rare collaboration in the months following the declaration of a global pandemic. At that time, both iOS and Android were updated with a new capability, the Exposure Notification System (GAENS), which enabled smartphones to notify users when they may have encountered Covid-19.
For public health authorities, it provided another tool to try and dampen the spread of the virus at a time when manual contact tracing efforts were overloaded. Smartphone tracing was a brilliant idea that did prevent some spread of Covid, but the concept never worked as effectively as initially hoped.
Google and Apple previously said they’d retire the system when it was appropriate to do so. Those plans have not yet been announced even though the function the system provides is now obsolete in many regions around the world as public health authorities cease supporting the process necessary to make exposure notification work.
Contact tracing apps depended on coordination with public health authorities.
GAENS was launched in April 2020 after the University of Oxford published a paper in Science about how mobile phones could be used to trace close proximity contacts. The paper suggested that with a wide enough adoption rate, the app could even help bring the pandemic to an end, and even with a lower adoption rate, it could still prevent many thousands of infections.
The mobile app could detect close contacts by using a smartphone’s Bluetooth radio as a sort of radar that logs the anonymized identity of other nearby smartphones. The system was based on the CDC's guidelines for Covid-19 transmissibility at the time. When one of the users tests positive for Covid-19, the idea is they can report it through the app. Anyone they had come in close contact with within the previous couple of weeks would be warned of the potential exposure.
To build up trust and confidence in the public, instead of launching the capability globally and allowing users to self-report their illnesses, Apple and Google chose to work through regional public health authorities. As a result, many different apps were launched worldwide, offering the same functionality but in slightly different ways.
Most often, the public health authority was involved in reporting that a user had tested positive for Covid. They would issue a unique authorization key to the user so that users could not falsely report a Covid infection to the system. This measure improved credibility, but it created dependency on public health entities. Looking around the world, many such authorities have now discontinued support for their apps, such as Canada, where government support for exposure notification apps tailed off.
The Netherlands and its CoronaMelder app provide an example of a public decommissioning. At its peak, the app had nearly 3.5 million users and was used to warn citizens about Covid exposures more than 455,000 times. The app was discontinued on April 22, 2022, bringing the user base down to 0. The app is suspended because the Netherlands no longer requires close contacts of positive coronavirus cases to self-isolate, the website explains.
The Netherlands isn’t alone. In Europe, many other countries have discontinued support for their apps, according to the European Commission, including Austria, Denmark and Poland.
In a stranger scenario, such as Germany, a private company launched an app that was adopted by a government as the approved exposure notification system, but the original app is morphing into an entirely new function. The Luca app, developed by neXenio GmbH and culture4life, was adopted by 40 million users in 13 different states. Luca was not based on the GAENS framework but illustrates how some apps that start with the intent of providing Covid exposure alerts can later pivot to a different purpose. After authorities halted contact-tracing efforts, Luca’s original purpose was obsolete, so a new version was released to allow users to save their ID cards to their smartphones. Luca is also looking to pivot to mobile payments, according to a Liberties report.
Whether mobile apps designed to warn of Covid exposure were effective or not seems to depend on the region. In some countries, millions of users generated hundreds of thousands of warnings after logging positive test results. In others, the systems were poorly adopted and barely used. Regardless, more than two years after GAENS was introduced to help overburdened public health authorities manage the pandemic, it’s no longer clear that it serves its intended purpose in many situations.
Tech providers need to release health features with proper governance.
Apple and Google aren’t alone in releasing technology solutions to address health risks. The outcomes for GAENS two years after its launch carry some important lessons for other firms offering similar services:
• Privacy is a requirement for health care technology, but not enough in itself. The efficacy of the solution must also be considered.
• Additional governance is required around features intended for health purposes. There should be clear accountability.
• A sunset plan must exist when the solution is released, so it’s clear how and when to remove the technology. The plan should explicitly prevent pivoting the solution to serve another purpose.
Companies working in this space, such as Apple and Google, should make their plans for their system clear. When will they retire the system from regions that have decommissioned their mobile apps? Or what does the future look like for this OS feature? It’s time they tell us.
Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?
Last month, Google launched a new division focused on bringing technology to educational and public sector institutions at federal, state, and local levels.
Google Public Sector has teamed with US chip manufacturer SkyWater Technology to build an open source platform to design semiconductors, which can then be built in a SkyWater factory.
Chip design software, called electronic design automation, is usually expensive to license, with the manufacturing of test chips running to tens of thousands of dollars. This incentive aims to eliminate these costs.
“We’re hoping that the collaboration is going to address what are really historical limitations of chip design and production, both for national defense as well as commercial markets, because researchers get improved accessibility and developers get to go through that exploration faster and candidly at lower costs,” said Will Grannis, CEO of Google Public Sector.
The US Department of Defense is investing A$21.5 million in the platform. SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman explains “one of the reasons the US government is investing in this initiative is because they can then take the output of a lot of this development.”
This comes as the US Senate passed a reduced version of the CHIPS act, aimed at bolstering US semiconductor manufacturing.
BTS has teamed up with Google as part of a multimedia collaboration that launched on Friday in the US in honor of the ninth anniversary of ARMY, the name of the fandom associated with the wildly popular K-pop hitmakers.
The collaboration spans Google Search (where users can interact with a fun Easter Egg), as well as Google Street View and YouTube. For the latter, BTS has been encouraging ARMY to submit videos in which they share their favorite BTS memories as part of the #MyBTStory challenge. On the group’s official YouTube channel this Wednesday, July 13, a special ARMY video will showcase all of those fan-submitted tributes.
First up, though, let’s talk about the BTS Google Search Easter egg, since that one is the simplest to interact with. All you need to do? Just type “BTS” into a blank Google Search box.
You can do this on either a desktop or a mobile device. Once you’ve done that, see the purple balloon on the screen?
Click it, and then watch as a swarm of purple balloons floats up to slowly fill your screen (purple, by the way, is the color associated with the BTS ARMY, for the unaware). You’ll also see that some of those balloons have microphones in them. Click those, and a special audio message from the band members will play.
Individual written messages from each member of the band also appear on the screen, with each tap of a balloon.
As we noted above, meanwhile, this Easter egg is not the extent of the BTS partnership with Google.
You can see a heartwarming example of a fan’s #MYBTStory submission to YouTube, below, ahead of the tribute video that hits the Google-owned video site next week.
The Google Arts & Culture online platform, meanwhile, is celebrating the BTS ARMY in its own way, with its “BTS x Street Galleries” collaboration.
Fans can take a Google Street View tour of various cities and buildings around the world that hold a special meaning for the bandmates. There are 14 locations in all, and fans can interact with photos and art curated by BTS members RM, SUGA, Jin, j-hope, V, Jimin, and Jung Kook. Or they can create their own Street Gallery.
All of this comes as the band is taking an extended break at the moment, partly so that individual members can pursue solo projects. But even with the break that was announced in June, it’s already clear that 2022 will prove to be one of the band’s busiest in latest memory.
The group held the final run of its Permission to Dance-themed concerts in Las Vegas earlier this year, for example, in addition to performing at the GRAMMYs. The band released an anthology comeback album, Proof, while BTS member j-hope is set to perform as a headliner at Lollapalooza later this month. j-hope’s highly anticipated solo debut album, Jack in the Box, is also coming on July 15.
At the end of June, meanwhile, BTS released a mobile game, called In the SEOM.
The game combines Candy Crush– and Animal Crossing-like gameplay elements for an experience that includes unlocking BTS context, beating puzzles, decorating an island, and designing outfits for the cute animated likenesses of the BTS members.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. on July 15, 2022, with statements from an Army spokesperson and the Army’s chief information officer provided after publication.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has quietly started beta testing Google Workspace as an alternate email option and potential solution to the service’s previous information technology woes.
Army chief information officer Raj Iyer confirmed the move in an emailed statement to Army Times and C4ISRNET.
“The Army is committed to providing our Soldiers the communications and collaboration capabilities they need to perform their missions,” Iyer said. “To that end, the Army has begun early testing of Google Workspace, and will provide details as soon as we are able.”
The platform is intended to serve junior troops who may have lost access to official email accounts amid a choppy transition from Defense Enterprise Email and its mail.mil addresses to the Army 365 system, which involves Microsoft-based products, according to a source familiar with the matter. The new Army 365 suite includes an Army.mil email, but the Army decided that not all soldiers required them.
According to documents and briefings obtained by Army Times last year, around 250,000 personnel — predominantly junior enlisted soldiers — were not included in the service’s Army 365 licensing plan, with sources describing the decision as cost-driven. The service publicly committed to maintaining official email access for those members by building an “alternate email solution” after Army Times reported it had considered eliminating their email altogether.
The so-called solution didn’t quickly materialize, though, and the Army pressed the Defense Information Security Agency, or DISA, to extend the life of the old email platform as an interim “bridging” measure. Soldiers reported increasing problems accessing official email in the intervening months, with many saying that their accounts had been terminated altogether.
But now, Google has committed to provide services covering the license shortfall, said the source familiar with the decision, who also confirmed that testing kicked off this week. Army Times reported in March that Google was a likely candidate for the project.
An Army spokesperson speaking on background cautioned that due to “the intricacies of the pilot, it is premature to discuss the broader implementation across the Army.”
The spokesperson added the service is “not currently aware” of issues with Defense Enterprise Email accounts being deleted after asking DISA to stop automatic deletions, and “will look into reports that some Soldiers have experienced problems accessing their accounts.”
The Google Workspace trial is currently a limited test for select troops. But it represents the company’s big stab at the Department of Defense software Goliath. Competitor Microsoft has long worked with the Pentagon, furnishing services and products ranging from cloud computing to the HoloLens — the foundation of the troubled Integrated Visual Augmentation System.
The DoD last year reached out to Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon regarding the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, the follow-up to the infamous JEDI venture, emphasizing only a few companies could satisfy the program’s hefty demands. Proposals are now under review, with an award expected in December.
In November, Google announced its Workspace product achieved FedRAMP High authorization, a security standard for protecting the federal government’s most sensitive unclassified information in cloud computing environments.
In the same announcement, the company said it earned Impact Level 4, or IL4, authorization from DISA, allowing controlled unclassified information to be worked with across Google Cloud services.
Both certifications broadened Google’s horizons and likely made its latest foray with the Army possible.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its NNSA — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.
Deutsche Telekom deploys Google Cloud’s cloud-native and edge technology to explore areas in core network services and data analytics.
Deutsche Telekom and Google Cloud will jointly pilot several network services such as 5G standalone in Austria, as well as remote packet gateway functions, leveraging Google Cloud and Google Distributed Cloud Edge.
Deutsche Telekom will also test several use cases regarding anomaly detection, performance counter, and trace data with data-driven operations and automated workflows using Kubernetes-based solutions offered by Google Cloud.
“At Deutsche Telekom we are implementing our leading digital telco strategy by investing in best-in-class network infrastructure and by establishing cloud-based service platforms,” said Deutsche Telekom board member Claudia Nemat.
“Communication service providers are increasingly looking for cloud-native solutions to advance the deployment of network functions and drive automation, elasticity, and scalability,” said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.
“We believe our partnership with Deutsche Telekom will deliver significantly improved experiences for end users that will ultimately raise the standard for the telecommunications industry.”
Deutsche Telekom has worked with Google for many years.
In 2021, Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems teamed up with Google Cloud to build and deliver sovereign cloud services to German public sector, enterprises, and healthcare firms. The first joint solution is already available to T-Systems customers.
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 13 July 2022.
In its fifth year, XConf is our annual technology event created by technologists for technologists.
Participate in a robust agenda of talks as local thought leaders and Thoughtworks technologists share first-hand experiences and exchange new ways to empower teams, deliver quality software and drive innovation for responsible tech.
Explore how at Thoughtworks, we are making tech better, together.
Tickets are now available and all proceeds will be donated to Indigitek, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to create technology employment pathways for First Nations Peoples.
Click the button below to register and get your ticket for the Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane event
Stay alert, don’t get complacent and don’t delay shifting off your reliance on cookies is the overall advice from industry following news that the cookie’s final demise has been delayed once more.
Google has yet again delayed removal of the cookie, now saying it’ll take until the second half of 2024 to mass adopt an alternative solution for the advertising industry. In a blog post, VP of Google Privacy Sandbox, Antony Chavez, attributed Google’s decision to the need for more time to evaluate and test replacement technologies. The Privacy Sandbox initiative was established in order to devise next-generation targeted advertising solutions in collaboration with the industry advertising ecosystem.
The decision marks the second time Google has delayed removing cookies. Having first announced its intention to phase out cookies on Chrome in 2020, the search giant told the market last June last year it was extending the deadline until late 2023, again for the reason of requiring more time to find an alternative.
The news came after Google confirmed there would be no replacement for unique identifiers to track individuals once cookies are removed. This will mean the sole way of targeting and measuring digital ads across Google’s browser outside of a first-party data arrangement will be via proposals managed within Google’s Privacy Sandbox.
The original delay also came off the back of rising anti-competitive concerns raised by governments and industry in the US, UK and Europe about the impact removing cookies would have on the advertising ecosystem. In January 2021, for example, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced plans to focus on Privacy Sandbox’s potential impacts on both publishers and users. This was followed by amendments to ongoing antitrust complaint in the US stating the Privacy Sandbox changes would require advertisers to use Google as middleman to advertise.
Upon announcing its first delay, Google made it clear publishers and advertisers will be given at least nine months to migrate once a replacement solution has been widely tested with Web communities. In announcing the latest delay, Chavez’s blog post also tried to stress progress was being made.
Over latest months, Google has released trial versions of a couple of alternative advertising solutions in the works, including new Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome for developers to test. Earlier this year, the company also reached an agreement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on how to develop and release the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome worldwide.
“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome,” Chavez stated. “This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions.
“This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the Web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.
“For these reasons, we are expanding the testing windows for the Privacy Sandbox APIs before we disable third-party cookies in Chrome.”
Google now expected the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be generally available in Chrome from Q3 2023. As developers adopt these APIs, phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome will begin in the second half of 2024. Chavez confirmed Privacy Sandbox trials are to be expanded to millions of users globally from early August.
“We’ll gradually increase the trial population throughout the rest of the year and into 2023. Before users are added into the trials, they will be shown a prompt giving them the option to manage their participation,” he explained. “As the Web community tests these APIs, we’ll continue to listen and respond to feedback.”
Paid media director of digital marketing agency Tug, Isabel Blanchard, wasn’t surprised by Google’s decision considering the industry still considers it to be a hot topic. In responding to CMO questions about the significance the latest announcement, she noted many in the local ecosystem will breathe a sigh of relief – some because they have gained extra time, and others who just don’t want to deal with the change now.
“There has been some movement on agencies, brands and tech vendors pushing more on adopting post-cookie measures such as server-side API, a more cohesive data ecosystem and syncing first-party data across platforms [buying, CDP and CMPs] - but it hasn’t really moved the dial for the majority of brands,” Blanchard told CMO.
“Google is feeling the pressure from an industry not yet ready to move on from cookies. This is not the first time the deprecation has been pushed back since its announcement. But the demand for better measurement and attribution has continued to grow - which increases the data points and contingencies that the privacy sandbox needs to account for.”
Yet while many in the industry might be tired of the cookie conversation, that doesn’t take away from the fact change needs to be made - and be made well.
“This is a great opportunity for companies that need more time to implement these structures and prepare their organisations for post-cookie impact,” Blanchard advised. “I wouldn’t waste this chance - best to chat to clients, agencies, tech vendors on how to navigate this. At some point Google is going to bite the bullet and do it and then it’ll be too late. We’ve already seen how iOS14.5 affected brands; that was a fraction compared to Chrome users.
“This is not a matter to be put off, it’s the time to say yes to preparing for post-cookie advertising.”
Interactive Bureau of Advertising (IAB) tech lead, Jonas Jaanimagi, saw the news as ultimately a good thing, given the industry will have more time to get operationally prepared for changes to come.
“That’s not only with regards to 3PC but also consumer privacy considerations, competent consent management capabilities and a genuinely workable future state for responsible addressability,” he told CMO.
“We forget what an elegant and simple solution cookies are, and how prevalent they remain for so many Web-based experiences aside from advertising. Lou Montulli invented them while playing around with trying measure unique visits at Netscape almost 30-years ago. Cookies are the hero solution of the nascent Internet, and their ease of use make them hard to move away from. But it’s time to move on to more robust, cutting-edge and future-proof approaches.”
Liveramp COO Asia-Pacific, Melanie Hoptman, also saw the decision as an indication Google did not feel companies had done enough to transition to cookieless alternatives. Liveramp provides a data connectivity platform and is setting itself up as an alternative way of employing data in marketing and advertising.
“Regardless of the timeline Google has set, 45 per cent or more of the Internet is already cookieless, mobile in-app is cookieless, and CTV is cookieless. The time is now for publishers and marketers to control their destiny and transition away from cookie-based identity to people-based identity,” Hoptman said.
“Given the current economic uncertainty, it is especially important to optimise the impact of every marketing and advertising dollar. Marketers should be asking themselves if their investments are addressable, accountable and measurable. Those who are making progress on their cookieless futures and negotiating based on business outcomes, rather than traditional reach and awareness metrics, can ensure media dollars are working harder than ever before.”
The whopper challenge is how to balance consumer privacy demands with a solution that’s become as flexible and critical for ad targeting and reporting as the cookie has.
One of the initial APIs Google tested was ‘federated learning of cohorts’ (FLoC), or anonymised groups of consumers showing similar interests and behaviours that could be tracked across the Web. However, criticisms and widespread opposition of this approach led to development of FLoC being stopped in early 2022.
Instead, another proposed API, ‘Topics’, was introduce. This API focuses on using categories the browser infers based on the pages an individual visits. It also means specific sites a person visited are no longer shared. Users are also expected to be able to see syllabus they’re associated with, and either remove those they don’t like or disable such settings.
A third API, called ‘Fledge’, is a remarketing solution allowing the sites of advertisers visited by an individual to then inform their browser that they would like a chance to show an ad to that person in future. An advertiser can also directly share information with an individual’s browser including specific ads and how much they would be willing to pay to show them. An algorithm in the browser would then inform what ad might appear to the individual on a specific website.
Blanchard was looking forward to seeing how Google navigates this space given Fledge is designed to serve ads in-browser without passing information on to publishers or advertisers. But whatever solutions are being explored, she stressed “laziness is the death of innovation”.
“While most people use the Google stack, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get left behind by the growth and successes of other tech companies,” she continued. “The Trade Desk and its Unified ID initiative is a market-leading solution and the fact it is open-sourced and has partnerships with some of the biggest names of the industry makes it a great platform to test your next campaign. I’d be keen to see how Google competes with this.”
Commenting on Google’s latest delay in the context of the ongoing consumer privacy debate, Lotame head of global partnerships, Pierre-Marc Diennet, stressed the distinctiveness and opposing approach being taken by Google compared to rival browser and device manufacturer, Apple. Lotame is a customer data platform focused on supporting brands through their own first-party data solution.
“Apple is restricting its technology and devices further. Google is making them more transparent,” Diennet commented. “What I find most interesting is how marketers have entirely abdicated the fight with Apple.”
Diennet noted the UK Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] decision to take Alphabet to court revolved around ‘limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers’ and ‘applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage’.
“This is very much what Apple has been doing and continues to double and triple down on,” he claimed. “In IOS 15.4. Apple has gone full-paternalistic and set blocking by default, removing the choice for consumers to engage with and share with the brands, apps and publishers they enjoy. The only entity that can monetise app and browser activity on IOS 15.4, and later with any real effectiveness, is Apple.
“I'm waiting for the public to wake up to the fact that Apple isn't a trillion-dollar company because they protected your data, they are a trillion-dollar company because they hoard it.”
Search and media agency Jaywing, has been actively educating clients about server-side tracking and moving away from client-side tracking as a solution to bypass the impact that cookie consent settings will have on trackable data.
“With this in mind, we are all learning what a cookieless world looks like, and we will no doubt have to continue to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of users' privacy, whilst maintaining efficient digital campaigns,” Jaywing data and analytics manager, Christian Mulder, said.
He also advised advertisers spent more time becoming accustomed to data tracking capabilities. “Advertisers should be running tracking methodologies simultaneously and measuring the impact, which should allow advertisers to gain more confidence over time,” Mulder said.
“For early adopters, advertisers will have already initiated the switch and will continue to work towards a cookie-less future for their own requirements. This delay will allow advertisers to run Enhanced Conversions and traditionally cookie tracking simultaneously to measure the impact it will have on measurement and approach.”
Mulder’s top piece of advice is to ignore the news and continue planning and developing out your strategy to overcome the cookie updates.
“It is vital that brands do not see this as an opportunity to slow down or reconsider the investment in operating in a post-cookie world, but instead use this time to learn and adapt internally if necessary,” he said. “Assume that as much as Google could push the timeline out again, they could also bring things forward again if they so felt it was in the best interests of their business - sometimes these decisions are driven by external factors, parties and legislation.”
The IAB Tech Lab is also working collaboratively with industry towards the ultimate demise of cookies with three emerging forms of solutions. Jaanimagi was also hopeful the industry can use the additional time constructively and “not become complacent and reliant upon nothing changing in terms of operational obligations in the short term”.
“We strongly recommend regularly keeping an eye on Google’s dedicated online Privacy Sandbox timeline for exact timings of any future updates and trials for the proposals,” he advised. “Lean into the dedicated ‘Privacy Sandbox Relevance and Measurement origin trial’ framework and if you are a Google client, ensure your specialist staff are up-to-speed and liaising with Google’s support teams directly on how to competently understand and test the proposals sooner rather than later. Remember that this includes proposed changes to both web-based (Chrome) and in-app environments [Android].
“Lastly, consider aligning your related and resources planning for these changes in Chrome and Android with also ensuring you are testing adequately and understanding Apple’s updates to SKAdNetwork, which is now on v4.0, for measurement and attribution within iOS and iPadOS.”
Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.
You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page
The searing heat of summer may finally be slowing the pace of the immersive tech industry. There was only one funding announcement, for a company that makes avatars for conferencing, not a web3 battle royale in which the slain pay a price to respawn. Meta made no announcements but still managed to get into the news as party to a new legal dispute about its name. See below for the dish. Podcast listeners are well aware of my obsession with volumetric capture and other camera effects. I’ve included a compilation of the work of Bilawal Sidhu (creator alias billyfx@). He uses NeRF (defined below) to make realistic captures of real spaces you can fly through on a computer or teleport around in VR.
Hologram raises $6.5M for blockchain-based avatars that you can use in video calls. This self-expression company enables you to use non-fungible token (NFT) images or characters as avatars. Users can start Zoom or other video-calls and livestreams with their avatar. The camera on your device motion-tracks and syncs you lips and facial expressions to your avatar using any device. Hologram is affiliated with the Cool Cats, DeadFellaz, AnataNFT, Galverse, Froyoverse, and Crypto Coven NFT collections. Sounds like a promising company, except for the fact they have the most confusing name in the industry. The only way to choose a worse name would be to call the company “camera” or “headset.” This guarantees they will not found by search, as I just discovered writing this. Polychain Capital led the round, with participation from Nascent, Inflection, The Operating Group, Quantstamp, Neon DAO, Foothill Ventures and South Park Commons. I guess they like the name.
Google will test new AR prototypes in public starting in August. Introduced at the end of Google’s developer conference in June, almost as an afterthought, Google’s new AR glasses do very specific and useful things: translation, transcription, and navigation. Field testing with genuine humans begins in August.
AR Opera Glasses Available for Select Broadway Shows. The René AR glasses were built to immerse spectators in Broadway shows by using AR to enhance the experience of popular shows such like Wicked and Aladdin. The René glasses can be rented for Broadway performances via the TKTS ticket office in Times Square.
Apple To Launch ‘More Affordable’ Headset Model In 2025. Bloomberg and The Information report the first generation product is set to be priced north of $2000. But a new report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says a “more affordable” model will launch in 2025 and is expected to sell 10 million units.
Engage Finally Adds iOs, private browsers, and enhanced avatars. The remote education and collaboration company is upgrading its infrastructure and features as it builds a new business-only campus it hopes will be the “Linkedin of VR.”
A company called Meta is suing Meta for Trademark Violations And Damages. The company formerly known as Facebook bought its new name from the bankruptcy of a well known AR headset company, Meta, in 2019. Meta’s technology has lived on to become the enterprise design tool, Campfire, and Facebook got Meta’s trademarks. Well. It turns out there is yet another Meta, Meta.is, which claims its been damaged by its unwanted association the company formerly known as Facebook. The old Meta burned through a lot of cash before laying everyone off in a pathetic death spiral during VR winter in 2018. Not a great association there, either. Why didn’t Meta.is sue them? Maybe it’s because the old Meta didn’t have any money.
Walkabout Minigolf Adds Course Based on Henson Movie Franchise, Labyrinth. The Jim Henson classic is coming to the popular VR minigolf app on July 28th. Walkabout enhances engagement by continually launching new courses, holding tournaments, and promoting social features like darts that players can use between rounds. What most distinguishes the multiplayer game is the fantastic, impossible settings they create (cliffs, jungles, haunted mansions, outer space, etc.), while keeping the physics of the game itself consistently realistic.
Creator Bilawal Sidhu (aka billyfx@) described this video as “a compilation video where I NeRF’d all sorts of subject matter with all sorts of capture modalities from phones to drones to DSLRs.”
NeRF is a near radiance field, which is defined this way (I looked it up): a fully-connected neural network that can generate novel views of complex 3D scenes, based on a partial set of 2D images.
This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column and Ted Schilowitz, Futurist at Paramount Global. This week our guest is serial entrepreneur Matt Miesnieks, co-founder of AR Metaverse startup, Living Cities. He’ll be speaking with us about how computer vision will soon allow us to experience other places with other people as never before. Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
What We’re Reading
The Metaverse Will Reshape Our Lives. Let's Make Sure It's for the Better (Matthew Ball/Time)
The DeanBeat: RP1 simulates putting 4,000 people together in a single metaverse plaza (Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat)
“If you’ve been following Arm adoption across our other cloud customers, you are already familiar with the low-cost, energy efficient, and performant benefits of the Neoverse platform,” said Chris Bergey, SVP/GM, Infrastructure Line of Business, Arm, in a blog. “Those performance-per-watt benefits are now helping to drive significant advantages of the new Tau T2A VMs: exceptional single-threaded performance, a compelling price, and broad support from operating systems, ISVs and Google Cloud services.”
“The philosophy behind Neoverse is that all cloud computing should be performant, efficient and sustainable. But we can’t achieve that goal unless Neoverse is in all the major public clouds, and today we can proudly say we are,” Bergey said.
He said “The long-standing collaboration between Arm and Google Cloud now spans enabling ultra-low power ML at the edge with tinyML, improving user experiences on Android, to building a cleaner cloud with Tau T2A VMs…”